Neuroscience news

Achievements and announcements

University neuroscientists publishing on SARS-CoV-2 infection through the olfactory epithelium

Illustration of Coronavirus passing through the olfactory epithelium - ciliated sustentacular cells (with ACE2) and olfactory neurons (no ACE2) that carry smell sensation into the brain

SARS-CoV-2 infection spreads through the air. An early marker of infection is a reduced sense of smell, including anosmia, an early marker in many infected individuals. Two University neuroscientists, Chris von Bartheld, Ph.D. and Dennis Mathew, Ph.D. are investigating the molecular mechanisms that underlie the loss of smell in the olfactory epithelium.

Chris von Bartheld, Ph.D. in the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology in the School of Medicine and colleagues at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Poland have identified and localized Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and Transmembrane Serine Protease 2 (TMPRSS2), proteins required for SARS-CoV-2 infection, in specific cells of the murine olfactory epithelium. Specifically, expression was detected in the sustentacular cells with little or no protein in the olfactory neurons (Figure (Bilinska et al., 2020)). These data suggest that sustentacular cells are the pathway for SARS-CoV-2 virus entry and impairment of the sense of smell in COVID-19 patients (Butowt and von Bartheld, 2020). Bilinska et al. also found that protein expression increased with age, a finding that may explain the higher susceptibility and severity of COVID-19 in the elderly, and that expression levels were higher in males. This work has been featured in the NY Times and identified by the Web of Science as Nevada’s hottest paper for 2020. Other COVID-19 articles from this group include (Butowt et al., 2020a; Butowt et al., 2020b; von Bartheld et al., 2020).

Dennis Mathew, Ph.D. in the Department of Biology in the College of Science has written an opinion piece published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (Mathew, 2020) as part of a series of articles on the research topic of COVID-19 in CNS and PNS: Basic and Clinical Focus on the Mechanisms of Infection and New Tools for the Therapeutic Approach. Dr. Mathew writes about the role of ACE2 in mediating SARS-CoV-2 infection, noting that it also functions in glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity. He speculates that interactions between ACE2 and insulin signaling pathways may underlie severe complications and higher mortality rates observed in diabetics infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. He points out that the olfactory systems of genetically tractable animals such as mice and fruit flies offer convenient venues to explore these critical questions.

New undergraduate neuroscience training program

Doctor reviewing brain scans

The Nevada ENDURE program is designed to enhance representation of students whose backgrounds are underrepresented in doctoral programs in neuroscience. Please see the Nevada ENDURE program website for additional information about eligibility and about the program.

NEVADAToday: Nevada ENDURE seeks to improve diversity in neuroscience

Ebenezer Yamoah, Ph.D. and laboratory featured on Journal of Neuroscience cover

polarized cristae and crista junctions in mitochondria tethered to the subsurface cisternae in a mouse outer hair cell

Congratulations to Ebenezer Yamoah, Ph.D. and his laboratory team in the Department of Physiology & Cell Biology whose image from the article “Altered Outer Hair Cell Mitochondrial and Subsurface Cisternae Connectomics Are Candidate Mechanisms for Hearing Loss in Mice” is featured on the cover of the October 2020 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

View a brief video of the subject matter. (Please note, external video is not fully accessible.)

Researchers calibrating a video-recording headset.

First-person video dataset aims to catch people looking (at everything)

To better understand the organization of the brain and the perceptual tendencies in humans, a team of four scientists, including Neuroscience faculty members Paul MacNeilage and Mark Lescroart, are recording video from four head-mounted cameras – with eye-tracking and head movement – and assembling a massive video database with more than 240 hours of first-person video that can be used by researchers everywhere. Read the full Nevada Today article.

Neuroscience faculty Paul MacNeilage and Mark Lescroart, along with faculty members at two partner institutions, awarded NSF grant to create a database of first-person visual experiences.

Congratulations to Paul MacNeilage and Mark Lescroart, co-PIs in an exciting research project involving creating a first-of-its-kind database of video open to researchers worldwide in order to study human behavior and development through first-person experiences. The project received an NSF grant of more than $2 million.

Hector Arciniega recipient of prestigious National Institute of Health (NIH) fellowship

Neuroscience Ph.D. student Hector Arciniega received the prestigious National Institute of Health (NIH) fellowship: Blueprint Diversity Specialized Pre-doctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) Award. The two-phase award will assist Hector in completing his doctoral dissertation as well as transition him into a postdoctoral research position.

Samantha Lee awarded a Graduate Dean's Merit Scholarship

Samantha Lee, a Ph.D. student in the Strother Lab, was awarded the Graduate Dean's Merit Scholarship for the 2019-20 academic year. The Graduate Dean's Merit Scholarship for promising, newly admitted graduate students is a one-year award in the amount $10,000, disbursed as two equal sums at the beginning of the Fall and Spring semesters.

Gideon Caplovitz and Ph.D. students Taissa Lytchenko and Kyle Killebrew learn the cognitive processes of the octopus

Gideon Caplovitz, graduate students Taissa Lytchenko and Kyle Killebrew and partners at Dartmouth and the University of Rhode Island have been awarded $300,000 to perform the first neural recording in an octopus! Read the Nevada Today article about the National Science Foundation Award

Neuroscience faculty member Jacqueline Snow honored with Rising Researcher Award

Wesley Chalifoux, assistant professor of chemistry, and Jacqueline Snow, assistant professor of psychology were honored with the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents' Rising Researcher Award, presented at the annual Honor the Best ceremony. Read more the Nevada Today article about the Rising Researcher Award

Our impact

Nevada Today news stories from Neuroscience and the departments and centers that contribute to the program.

Institute for Neuroscience Research Retreat check-in table at Granlibakken Resort
Institute for Neuroscience hosts successful research retreat

Graduate students and faculty present research and discuss future plans at Granlibakken Resort in Lake Tahoe

A representative of Siemens and the University's neuroscience imaging director confer as an fMRI is conducted.
A major milestone in neuroscience research and teaching excellence

$5.3 million, NIH COBRE ‘Phase 3’ award will further advance the mission and impact of the University’s Center for Integrative Neuroscience

A cross section is highlighted with a dark red, with brighter red spots lined up along the center of the cross section horizontally.
NIH grant-funded research to look at how the brain processes visual stimuli

Researcher Jennifer Hoy hopes to better understand how the brain identifies stimuli as positive or negative, and the behaviors that follow.

Confocal image of neurons
Journal of Neuroscience cover story features University neuroscience research

Assistant Professor Simon Pieraut’s paper was featured in the May 26 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience

Amy Altick poses for a photo in front of the quad on the balcony of Morrill Hall.
Amy Altick asks "What did your brain do for you today?"

Dr. Altick receives the Outstanding Outreach and Engagement Faculty Award for her work with the Society for Neuroscience

Compilation image of a striped dress that sparked debate on the internet over it's color.
Calibrating Vision, a Discover Science at Home lecture

Foundation Professor and Director of the University’s Center for Integrative Neuroscience Michael Webster discusses the complex adaptations of our visual senses in his March 11 Discover Science virtual lecture.

Woman points at brain scans.
Nevada ENDURE seeks to improve diversity in neuroscience

New program aims to raise interest and opportunities in neuroscience research for individuals who are typically underrepresented in the field.

brains on display
Taissa Lytchenko receives international neuroscience society award

Graduate student recognized for Cognitive Brain Sciences outreach and education for community

Davidson Mathematics and Science building
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP) awarded to five College of Science students and one recent graduate

Faculty share congratulations with NSF GRFP recipients and students offer advice for others interested in applying.

Matteo Aureli, Mohammed Ben-Idris and Jamie Voyles-Ensor are panel presentation speakers.
What does it take to receive a National Science Foundation CAREER award?

The latest prestigious early-career awards will advance research in wildfire-smoke forecasting, battery performance and understanding brain function

A reflection of Dr. van Breugel as he looks at fruit flies.
Early-career investigator in mechanical engineering wins prestigious fellowship in interdisciplinary research

Dr. Floris van Breugel studies insects for inspiration in designing robust and novel control systems for robots

Assistant professor and students calibrate video headset
First-person video dataset aims to catch people looking (at everything)

Three universities collaborating to develop visual archive to be used for research, artificial intelligence development

Two people looking at computer image in suite where MRI equipment is operated
Partnership yields new technology for neuroscience research, patient care

Renown Health and the University bring the latest in advanced brain imaging – the ‘gold standard’ for research – to Northern Nevada

2 faculty member sitting at desk in office with neuroscience-related images on the computer screens
Institute for Neuroscience to help a multidisciplinary center of excellence become even stronger

James Kenyon named director of University of Nevada, Reno institute designed to complement and extend the energy, experience and potential in the neurosciences

Paul Hartley and Yanji Xu in genomics lab
Building research infrastructure: Investment in Core Labs

New directors named to centers for bioinformatics and genomics

Dr. Yumei Feng sitting in her office with book shelves in the background
Yumei Feng named Research and Innovation Leadership Fellow

UNR Med faculty member and biomedical researcher looks forward to immersive research administration experience

Hector Arciniega and Marian Berryhill are seated as a computer work station; Hector holds a clear 3-D representation of a human head.
Evidence shows electric stimulation improves low working memory

University of Nevada, Reno-led research shows promise for potential new application of transcranial direct-current stimulation in older adults

2 separate, side-by-side photos of Dr. Chalifoux and Dr. Snow
Chalifoux, Snow named 2018 Regents’ Rising Researchers

Recognized for early successes and discoveries in research fields of chemistry, psychology

Professor Jeff Harper with a student in his biochemistry lab
On the genetic frontier: Helping plants develop, survive and produce in extreme conditions

Jeff Harper, University’s 2018 Outstanding Researcher, contributes to advancements in plant biology through ‘extraordinary’ research

Students immerse themselves in virtual reality at @Reality studio inside the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
@Reality, a virtual reality + augmented reality studio, to open at Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center

@Reality will provide the University community with a dedicated space, equipment, software and expertise to properly support experimentation, exploration of virtual reality and augmented reality mediums

University of Nevada, Reno campus
The Graduate School Honors Graduate Dean’s Award Winners

Photographer in wet suit takes photos under water in Lake Tahoe
InNEVenture Fund enters second year of ramping up ideas and technologies for commercialization

Early-stage proof-of-concept funding applications now open for Nevada Research and Innovation Corporation program

Expanding the frontier of neuroscience

University shows multi-disciplinary strength in rapidly expanding research field